> The difference between a life form and a mixture of chunks of coal and water
> won't be found
> in comparing the chemicals, the difference is in their organization. That
> is all that separates living matter from non-living matter
Organization is only part of it. You could try to to make DNA out of
something else - substituting sulfur for carbon for instance, and it
won't work. It goes beyond mathematical considerations, since there is
nothing inherently golden about the number 79 or carbon-like about the
number 6. We can observe that in this universe these mathematical
organizations correlate with particular behaviors and qualities, but
that doesn't mean that they have to, in all possible universes,
correlate in that way. Mercury could look gold to us instead. Life
could be based on boron. In this universe, however, there is no such
thing as living matter, there are only living tissues. Cells. Not
> Could we not build an artificial retina which sent the right signals down the
> optic nerve and allow someone to see?
Sure, but it's still going to be a prosthetic antenna. You can
replicate the physical inputs from the outside world but you can't
necessarily replicate the psychic outputs from the visual cortex to
the conscious Self. It's no more reasonable than expecting the
fingernails on an artificial hand to continue to grow and need
clipping. We don't have the foggiest idea how to create a new primary
color from scratch. IMO, until we can do that - one of the most
objective and simple examples of subjective experience, we have no
hope of even beginning to synthesize consciousness from inorganic
>And brains are just gelatinous tissue with cells squirting juices back and
>forth. If you are going to use reductionism when talking about computers,
>then to be fair you must apply the same reasoning when talking about minds
Exactly. If we didn't know for a fact that our brain was hosting
consciousness through our first hand experience there would be
absolutely no way of suspecting that such a thing could exist. This is
what I'm saying about the private topology of the cosmos. We can't
access it directly because we are stuck in our own private topology.
So to apply this to computers and planes - yes they could have a
private topology, but judging from their lack of self-motivated
behaviors, it makes more sense to think of them in terms of purely
structural and electronic interiority rather than imagining that their
assembly into anthropological artifacts confer some kind of additional
A living cell is more than the sum of it's parts. A dead cell is made
of the same materials with the same organization as a living cell, it
just doesn't cohere as an integrated cell anymore, so lower level
processes overwhelm the whole. Decay is entropy for a body or a piece
of fruit, but a bonanza of biological negentropy for bacteria and
>Do you need another person to look at and interpret the firings of neurons
>in your brain in order for there to be meaning for your thoughts? If not,
>why must be a user of the computer to impart meaning to its states?
I'm not saying that there is no meaning to the states of
semiconductors acting in concert within a microprocessor, I'm just
saying that it's likely to be orders of magnitude more primitive than
organic life. To me, it's obvious that the interior experience of
neurons firing is the important, relevant phenomenon while the neuron
side is the generic back end.
Since computers are a reflection of our own cognitive abilities rather
than a self-organizing phenomenon, their important, relevant phenomena
are the signifying side which faces the user. The guts of the computer
are just means to an end. They don't know that they are computers, and
they never will. Computation is not awareness. If it were, you could
invent a new primary color simply by having someone understand a
formula. It's a category error to conflate the two.
btw, these ideas are not what I have always believed. I have been
thinking about these issues all of my life. My original orientation
was as a strict materialist, so I know very well how to make sense out
of the world that way. I'm just saying that it's missing half of the
story based on an idea of the self as a transparent logical entity
separate from the cosmos that it observes, which is not. Consciousness
is an extension of perception and awareness, not a disembodied logical
essence. Logic is metaphysical. Sense is physics.
On Jul 9, 6:08 pm, Jason Resch <jasonre...@gmail.com> wrote:
> On Sat, Jul 9, 2011 at 11:44 AM, Craig Weinberg <whatsons...@gmail.com>wrote:
> > > Why? Biological tissue is made out of protons, neutrons, and electrons
> > > just like computer chips. Why should anything other than their
> > > input/output function matter?
> > A cadaver is made out of the same thing too. You could pump food into
> > it and fit it with an artificial gut, even give it a synthesized voice
> > to make pre-recorded announcements and string it up like a marionette.
> > That doesn't mean it's a person. Life does not occur on the atomic
> > level, it occurs on the molecular level. There may be a way of making
> > inorganic molecules reproduce themselves, but there's no reason to
> > believe that their sensation or cognition would be any more similar
> > than petroleum is to plutonium. The i/o function is only half of the
> > story.
> > > Just assertions. The question is whether something other than you can
> > > have them?
> > Why couldn't it? As you say, I am made of the same protons, neutrons,
> > and electrons as everything else. You can't have it both ways. Either
> > consciousness is a natural potential of all material phenomena or it's
> > a unique special case. In the former you have to explain why more
> > things aren't conscious, and the latter you have to explain why
> > consciousness could exist.
> This is like having to argue why more atoms aren't alive. The difference
> between a life form and a mixture of chunks of coal and water won't be found
> in comparing the chemicals, the difference is in their organization. That
> is all that separates living matter from non-living matter. Mechanism says
> the same thing regarding intelligent entities vs. non-intelligent entities.
> It comes down to their organization, not any material difference. Addition
> can be performed by collections of cells and by logic gates etched on
> Most neurologists consider the retina part of the brain, since processing is
> performed there. Could we not build an artificial retina which sent the
> right signals down the optic nerve and allow someone to see? Such cyborgs
> already exist:http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-504763_162-20038162-10391704.html
> > My alternative is to see that everything
> > has a private side, which behaves in a sensorimotor way rather than
> > electromagnetic, so that our experience is a massive sensorimotor
> > aggregate of nested organic patterns.
> > > A computer flying an airliner is not very smart, but it would know what
> > > a runway is, what a storm is, the shape of the Earth. A computer that
> > > runs a hospital would know whether there were patients, doctors, or
> > nurses.
> > Nah, a computer like that wouldn't know anything about runways,
> > storms, shapes, or Earth or whether there were patients, doctors, or
> > nurses. Computers are just mazes of semiconductors which know when
> > they are free to complete some circuits and not others.
> And brains are just gelatinous tissue with cells squirting juices back and
> forth. If you are going to use reductionism when talking about computers,
> then to be fair you must apply the same reasoning when talking about minds
> and brains.
> > A computer
> > autopilot knows less what a plane is than a cat does. Computers are
> > automated microelectronic sculptures through which we compute human
> > sense. They have no actual sense of their own beyond microelectronic
> > sense.
> > > You beg the question by specifying "human meaning". Do you suppose that
> > > there is something unique about humans, or can there be dog meaning and
> > > fish meaning and computer meaning?
> > There is certainly something unique about humans in the minds of
> > humans. Of course there is dog meaning, fish meaning, liver cell
> > meaning, neuron meaning, DNA meaning, carbon meaning. There isn't
> > computer meaning though because it's only a computer to a person that
> > can use a computer.
> Do you need another person to look at and interpret the firings of neurons
> in your brain in order for there to be meaning for your thoughts? If not,
> why must be a user of the computer to impart meaning to its states?
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